The San Francisco 49ers are turning over their starting cornerbacks this season, and Tramaine Brock is a front-runner for serious playing time outside. Brock seems interested in getting more than just outside work, however. He chatted with the media on Thursday, and he made it clear he also wants to claim the slot corner role (transcript).
We've got a lot of talent and competition going on. We're just all competing for the spot. Me, my mindset is the No. 1 corner, and I'm trying to win the nickel job, too. We're just competing. First week, we'll find out which spots will be taken.
Through the first week and a half of practice, Brock and Shareece Wright have been the starting corners in the base defense. When the team has gone to the nickel, Brock has moved inside to the slot, and Dontae Johnson has come on outside.
Jimmie Ward handled slot work last year before his foot injury sidelined him. He is getting individual work in camp this month, but he will not travel with the team to Houston. There is no word on where he is at in his recovery. The team seems content to work him back slowly, without having used the PUP list as an option.
Brock said the slot is a position he has always wanted to play, but he has not had the opportunity prior to this year. He likes that it allows him to be aggressive, work more man-to-man coverage, and even get in some blitzes. He views it as a challenge because you are left to work in space a bit more, but seems excited about that challenge. His tone of voice definitely changed when talking about the potential slot role.
When asked about Brock and the nickel, Jim Tomsula talked about Brock's foot quickness and ability to drive and change direction as needed. A toe injury cost Brock significant time last year, and an early return due to other player injuries led to a hamstring injury.